The Houston Texans need to work to beef up the offensive line to protect Deshaun Watson, who was sacked a record amount of times this season. Here’s two NFL-ready offensive tackles that the team needs to target so take a look.
The Houston Texans’ roller coaster of a season came to a brutal stop thanks to Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck. Although every Texans’ fan is depressed and angry, the season was not a disaster. Even though the Texans did not even have a first or second round pick in 2018, several rookie players helped push the Texans into the postseason: wide receiver Keke Coutee, safety Justin Reid, and tight end Jordan Thomas are the first that come to mind. But, after the humiliation to the Colts, it is clear Houston is far from a finished product. The Texans have a lot of decisions to make in the off season. Should the Texans extend defensive end Jadeveon Clowney? Or should they fire head coach Bill O’Brien or defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel?
There is a lot to pay attention to this off season but let’s focus on the 2019 NFL draft. Free agency can dramatically improve a team but the draft is where the core of a team is typically built. Below are the rankings of Houston’s positions of need:
- Offensive tackle/guard
- Running back
The Texans currently hold the 23rd pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft. Quarterback Deshaun Watson was sacked a total of 62 times in the regular season, an ungodly number for a team’s supposed franchise quarterback. If the Texans are serious about Watson’s longterm future in Houston, they need to find him some protection.
Here’s two guys that the Texans need to consider in the upcoming draft:
Jonah Williams is probably the best tackle in this year’s draft. At 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds, he could definitely be the mauler Houston needs. In pass protection, he rarely takes a false step or gets off-balance. His hand placement follows his exceptional footwork. But there are more tools to his arsenal. He is also excellent in run-blocking. Williams communicates well with the rest of his offensive linemen and has the know-how on when to climb to the second level.
Notice here, Williams passes off the end and drives the linebacker at the point of attack:
Jonah Williams is going to be an impact starter from day one for any team. Here, he is able to pass off the end and reach the second level. He manhandles the linebacker at the point of attack. Smart, smart lineman. pic.twitter.com/WVXYxv3bYy
— Nathan Jones (@natn03) January 9, 2019
Williams is projected to be a Top-10 pick. He can play either tackle or guard at the next level. So if the Texans want to quickly upgrade their offensive line, trading up to grab Williams could prove to be a great decision. Houston needs to protect Watson and Williams can do just that and more.
Besides his enormous size, what separates Cody Ford from many draft prospects is his IQ. He learns his opponents’ tendencies during the game and adjusts. He has quick feet and uses his long arms to get defensive ends off-balance. In the modern NFL, with all the stunts and twists defensive coordinators throw at inexperienced linemen, Ford is a great option for Houston in the draft. He has the intelligence to play tackle and there will not be a learning curve for Ford. Ford is mentally ready to play at tackle right now but just needs to work on his technique.
Take a look at this example here:
Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma– His first read is on the outside linebacker. Linebacker bails and Ford has the awareness to find the defensive lineman. Small plays like these go unnoticed, but make a huge difference in the game. pic.twitter.com/1HjnT55Oj1
— Nathan Jones (@natn03) January 9, 2019
On this play, Ford recognizes the outside linebacker dropping into a zone; quickly adjusts and helps out the left guard with the defensive lineman. Unlike a receiver or running back, offensive linemen have to execute on every single play to be deemed “a good player.” One mishap and the lineman will be blasted on social media. Ford is a consistent player and would be a reliable option for the Texans for years to come.
These are just two offensive linemen that the Texans could target in the 2019 NFL Draft. Williams is clearly a more polished player, but with some good coaching, Ford could turn out to be a steal late in the first round.
Upgrading the offensive line has to be the number one priority this off season. Watson has proven that he is a franchise quarterback but just imagine if he had some help from his offensive line. There’s no question that his production would skyrocket, so let’s hope the Texans’ brass does the right thing and invest in a tackle early in this draft.
Do you agree with my picks? Feel free to sound off the comments section below.
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Houston Texans: The best free agents to target in the 2019 off season
The Houston Texans off season is here and there’s a lot of work to do to prep this team for 2019. Who are the top free agents that the team should go after? Let’s take a look at the players who would make an impact.
The Houston Texans were one of the NFL’s better success stories this season after starting the season 0-3. J.J. Watt returned as one of the league’s most dominant defensive players, while free agent signee Tyrann Mathieu was a playmaker at the safety position. Third-round pick Justin Reid was one of the league’s best rookies and a starter in the Texans’ secondary for years to come.
DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson maintained their solid connection from last year as the former was named to his second consecutive first team All-Pro. Despite being sacked a league high 62 times, Watson passed for 4,165 yards and 26 touchdowns as he led the Texans to a 11-5 record and the AFC South division title. Lamar Miller was only 27 yards from his third 1,000+ yard season, despite missing two games because of injuries.
While the offense did put up strong numbers, the offensive line was a liability throughout the season as Watson was constantly under pressure, while Miller and the rest of the Texan running backs had few running lanes. Right tackle Seantrel Henderson was signed to fix those problems but he broke his ankle in the season opener and did not play for the rest of the season. He is a free agent now and so is Kendall Lamm, the man who replaced Henderson on the offensive line.
Julie’n Davenport struggled at left tackle and Martinas Rankin has not shown enough to yet to be a contributor on the offensive line. While Jadeveon Clowney and Mathieu are both free agents who need to be brought back, improving the offensive line is the team’s biggest priority in the off season. The Texans need to address the offensive line in both free agency and the draft as the unit struggled to protect Watson.
In regard to bringing in help via free agency, Daryl Williams missed most of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury but he was a second team All-Pro in 2017 and is the top tackle available.
His value might not as high because of the shoulder injury but Williams is one of the league’s better tackles and the Texans need to get him in free agency to bolster their offensive line. Williams is a mauler that should help create running lanes for Miller, while keeping Watson upright in the pocket. If the Texans are unable to sign him, Ja’Wuan James and Roger Saffold are the next best offensive linemen available in free agency and both players should be targeted by the Texans.
An upgrade in the secondary is also needed as Shareece Wright struggled in coverage, while Kayvon Webster and Aaron Colvin battled to stay healthy. Kareem Jackson had a great year for the Texans but is another Texans’ free agent that has to be re-signed.
The Texans need to address their own free agents first as Clowney, Mathieu and Jackson were all vital parts to the team’s success in 2018.
What do you think? Feel free to comment in the section below.
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